New Delhi: Stressing that national interest should be kept above all, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday sought cooperation from opposition parties for smooth conduct of business during the monsoon session of parliament.
At an all-party meeting called by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar, he also welcomed suggestions for extending the sittings of parliament, an official statement here said.
It said he urged all the political parties to keep national interest above any other considerations.
“We represent both the people and parties and there is a need to keep national interest above anything else,” Modi said, calling for passage of important bills including the GST.
“Important bills, including the GST Bill, are to be taken up during the monsoon session beginning tomorrow (Monday),” the prime minister said expressing hope that there would be meaningful discussions and outcomes during the coming session.
Referring to introduction of GST, he noted that the issue was not about which government would get the credit for its introduction but the bill’s passage.
Responding to suggestions from some leaders for increasing the sittings of Parliament, Modi said he welcomed the suggestion and urged them to ensure proper utilisation of the available time.
Terming the meeting “fruitful”, Ananth Kumar said all parties desired smooth functioning of parliament.
He also said that the government will talk to all opposition parties on the GST bill.
“We are talking to all parties and will talk in future as well on the GST and other bills. We want to create a consensus,” he said.
“In today’s (Sunday) meeting, the government told various political leaders that we want to run the house and need their support in this regard. All parties, including the Congress, said they will support us in running the house and support the bills on merit. We will create a consensus,” he said.
Earlier, Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad said the Congress will not “obstruct” the passage of any bill, adding it will support any bill that is in the country’s interest.
The Congress, meanwhile, said it is still awaiting a “concrete response” from the government on its concerns over the GST bill, and also accused the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party of stalling the proposed law for years.
“The GST issue was not discussed in this meeting… with regard to the three issues raised by us, the government is still to revert to us with its response. There have been intermittent discussions but it is not the solution.
“We are still awaiting a concrete response. The Congress gave birth to the GST bill. It has been held up in parliament by the BJP for 4-5 years. We believe the GST is in the country’s interest, it cannot be a flawed GST,” Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia told the media after the meeting.
The Congress has objected to the proposed levy of one per cent additional tax on inter-state sales, wants states to not have the power to levy additional tax over 18 per cent, and has also raised the issue of a dispute resolution mechanism.
As many as 45 leaders from 30 parties attended Sunday’s meeting where Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, and Ministers of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and S.S. Ahluwalia were also present.